Coaldale Volunteer Fire Company No. 1

Coaldale Volunteer Fire Company No. 1

(Source: Bicentennial of the American Revolution, Coaldale, Pa, 1976)

Coaldale Volunteer Fire Company was organized April 26, 1906. The meeting was held in the East Ward School Building which now houses W&L Manufacturing.

The seventy-five members elected the following officers:

President – Alexander Murphy

Vice President – William Evans

Recording Secretary – H.F. Blaney

Financial Secretary – Charles A. Melley

Treasurer – Neal J. Boyle

Investigating Committee – William Morrall, Peter McHugh, John Yemm

Assistant Foremen – Thomas Minnick

Sergeant-at-arms – Neal McNelis, James D. Boyle

Fire Chief – James L. Gallagher

In 1907 the Coaldale Borough Hall was erected at a cost of $15,000. Today it houses fire company equipment on the first floor, card rooms for senior citizens and an office on the second floor, and a modern social room in the basement of the building.

There are 193 regular members and 11 social members at this time. 1975 officers are:

President – Paul Pobuda

Vice President – Mike Kuba

Recording Secretary – Ron Palischak

Financial Secretary – Bernie Arner

Treasurer – Bill Urban

Fire Chief – Andy Sotak, Jr.

1st Assistant Fire Chief – Andy Magazzu

2nd Assistant Fire Chief – Jack Soberick

Engineers – Bill Urban and John Poko

In 1908, the Town Council bought for the newly organized Fire Company its first fire truck, a Howe motor driven pumper and chemical engine for $5,000. It was one of the first of its kind in Pennsylvania and the first in Schuylkill County. After being in use for six years, it was discarded for it proved to be unsatisfactory.

After discarding the motor-driven engine, a horse-driven fire engine was purchased by the Town Council. Two horses were purchased by the Fire Department. John (Buster) Hoben was the first driver of this team of horses. All equipment of the Howe engine was transferred to the horse drawn engine with the exception of the pump.

In 1916, the firemen purchased a motor driven combination, pumper, and chemical engine from the Hahn Motor Company of Hamburg. Motor driven fire apparatus was still an experiment in 1916 and the Hahn engine purchased at this time proved to be unsatisfactory, although it served the purpose until 1923, when a Reo chemical engine was purchased through Michael Domin.

The firemen realized the necessity of a pumper that would give them enough pressure to fight any fire that might break out in the community. In 1928, the firemen purchased a new Seagraves at a cost of $12,500. It is equipped with a centrifugal pump with a capacity of 1000 gallons per minute. This truck is still in service today and will always remain in an active part of the fire company. In 1941, the firemen purchased a Hahn pumper with a 1000 gallon per minute pump and a full complement of wooden ground ladders ranging from 12 to 50 feet.

For a period of 23 years the 1928 Seagraves and the 1941 Hahn served as the community’s source of fire protection.

In May of 1964, the firemen saw the need for a small truck to carry the protective and fire-fighting equipment owned by the Fire Department. The company then purchased a 1960 Chevrolet walk-in van from Hamm Chevrolet in Lehighton for $1,595. The truck carried the boots, coats, helmets, smoke masks, and brush-fire equipment owned by the company.

In August of 1965 the members of the company decided to look into the purchase of a new pumper to replace the Hahn which was starting to have major mechanical problems.

A five-year dream was finally realized in September of 1970 when a new 1970 Mack pumper was delivered to Coaldale for a price of $32,500. The old Hahn pumper was sold to Diversified Metals in Hometown for $550. The Mack today is the attack pumper for the firemen as it carries 9 aluminum ladders ranging from 8 foot to 45 foot, a 1000 gallon per minute pump, 1700 feet of 2 ½ inch hose, 700 feet of 1 ½ inch hose, self-contained breathing apparatus, protective clothing, hi-powered exhaust fans, and other various fire-fighting equipment.

After the purchase of the Mack truck the firemen worked to build up the treasury and in October of 1972 took delivery of a 1972 GMC Rescue truck purchased through Hosak Pontiac and Phoenix Body Works for a price of $9,000. Today this truck is equipped with the power supply for emergency lighting system, search and rescue equipment, self-contained breathing apparatus, protective clothing, and 150 gallons of water with a small portable pump. To buy this truck and its equipment today it would cost $25,000.

After the purchase of the Rescue Truck the firemen concentrated their money making efforts on the purchase of a new pumper to serve as a back-up for the Seagraves.

In October of 1975, the fire company entered into a contract with the American La France Corp. of Elmira, New York, to purchase a new “Century” model pumper for a price of $58,382. The delivery on this truck is expected in May of 1977.

When the new truck is received, the Seagraves will be taken out of service temporarily and rebuilt to an almost new condition.

The firemen are currently having a weekly Bingo, annual Fireman’s Ball, Block Party and Fund Drive to raise funds for their activities.